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 Extending Genius playlists

Smart Playlists
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iTunes 8 features a new playlist creation tool called Genius. To create a playlist with it, you find a song you like and select it in your iTunes library, then you click on the ‘Genius’ button at the bottom right of your iTunes window. iTunes then gives you a few, albeit overly simplified, options. One, select how many songs you want in the playlist. Two, ‘Refresh’ the playlist with different songs. Three, “Save Playlist”. In theory I like the idea but in practice, it’s half useless.

What if I don’t want songs rated 1 or 2 stars in this playlist? What if I only want unrated songs in this playlist? You may be thinking, “who rates songs? what’s the point?”. The answer to that is rather long and I will go into that in a later post when I explain how to create customized and dynamic playlist to vastly improve the “shuffle” ability of iTunes and your iPod.

To achieve a Genius based playlist that consist of only unrated songs, this is what I did.

1. Create a Genius playlist for a song. Select a song you like, click on the ‘atom’ looking icon at the lower right of your iTunes window. Select “Limit to 50 songs”. and click on “Save Playlist”. You may repeat this step and create an unlimited number of Genius playlist. I call each playlist “g: song title”.

I try to rate all of my music, so when iTunes creates a Genius playlist, probably about 50% are rated. This only gives me about 25 songs per playlist that aren’t rated. Depending on how many songs you have rated, and how many unrated songs you want to achieve for the final playlist, you can adjust the parameters to match your needs.

2. Create a Smart Playlist that contains “any” and for the options, select “Playlist” > “is” > (the genius playlist you created in step 2). You may continue adding any and all Genius playlist you’ve created in step 1. I called this playlist “g: all”.

3. Create another Smart Playlist that contains “all” and for the first option select “playlist” > “is” > (select the playlist you’ve created in step 2). For the second option in this playlist, select “rating” > “is” > “0 stars”. I called this playlist “g: unrated”.

Here is a screenshot of the playlists I’ve created. I named them all with “g: ” to make it easier to find them and to know what they are for just by the playlist name.

Genius Playlist

So now if you want to play unrated songs based on the iTunes Genius feature, just select the final playlist you’ve created in step 3. Which for me is “g: unrated” in the screenshot above.

This is also a good way to find songs that you knew you liked but for whatever reason haven’t gotten around to rating yet. As each song plays, you can easily and quickly rate it. Or you can eyeball the list and batch rate songs with a few mouse clicks.

This is how I currently rate my music:

5 stars: My absolute favorite songs that I very rarely skip
4 stars: Songs I like
3 stars: Song I’m indifferent to. They may grow on me.
2 stars: Songs I don’t like
1 star: Special case songs, “live music”, “spoken word”, self-help tracks (instructional, tutorial, etc)

via- alternapop.com


by dfbills on Feb 20 | 12:20 pm
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 Make even smarter Genius playlists

Smart Playlists
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I love iTunes' Genius feature. It's replaced smart playlists as my favorite way to construct aesthetically coherent sequences of songs. But I find the Genius dopey in one way: It repeats itself.

Let's say that, on Monday, I'm really liking the song For Emma by Bon Iver and want to hear it and songs like it. I'll select the song, hit the Genius button, and listen happily to the resulting playlist for hours. But then let's say that on Tuesday I'm still really liking For Emma and want to hear it and some more songs like it again, but I don't want to hear all the related songs I listened to the day before.

I could hit the Refresh button, but the Genius will likely suggest the same subset of songs. Same goes for other Bon Iver songs: Genius playlists based on any of them will likely overlap. I wish there was a way to tell the Genius to favor songs I haven't heard in a while. Barring that, my solution is to combine smart playlists with the Genius:

<ol>
<li>As usual, select the song on which you want to base your playlist and click the Genius button. From the Limit To drop-down menu, select 100 songs, then click on Save Playlist.</li>
<li>Go to File » New Smart Playlist. Set the selection criterion to Playlist Is, and point it to the Genius playlist you just created. Then select Limit To number of songs, Selected by Least Recently Played. You can choose any number of songs, but it should be something less than 50, in order to keep the playlist fresh.</li>
<li>Click OK and give your new smart playlist a name. I save all such playlists to a Genius folder, for easier syncing with my iPod.</li>
</ol>

There is one glitch in this system, and it's a biggie: The new smart playlist won't contain the actual song on which the original Genius list is based. So, in my example, my smart playlist would contain a bunch of songs related to For Emma but not (because I played it recently) For Emma itself. I'm still working on that one. Any suggestions?


by dfbills on Feb 19 | 7:12 pm
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 iTunes LPs Smart Playlist

Smart Playlists
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To make a Smart Playlist to show all of your iTunes LPs, simply use:

“Kind” contains “iTunes LP”


And you'll want to make sure auto update is checked.


by dfbills on Sep 12 | 12:24 pm
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 SuperGenius

Smart Playlists
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I’m probably the only person on my block who cares, but here’s my latest iTunes Pro Tip. In iTunes 8, your smart playlists can now use this rule:

Playlist is Genius

You can combine this with other rules in awesome ways, like

Rating is 5 stars - Get yourself a Genius list of songs you already love.
Rating is 0 stars - Genius list of songs you’ve never rated.

I’m jamming out with this setup right now:

Genius (100 songs), filtered through a Ratings is 0 smart playlist, played through Party Shuffle so I can rate songs as they play. I’m also using CoverSutra to show album art and metadata on my desktop and to scrobble to last.fm, plus I Love Stars to show/change ratings right from my menubar.


by Matthew Glover on Sep 11 | 3:59 pm
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 "Video Kind" broken in iTunes 7.5

Smart Playlists
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From Apple Support today:

iTunes 7.5 for Mac: Criteria of "Video Kind" in Smart Playlist not saved

Creating a new Smart Playlist or editing an existing playlist with the criteria of "Video Kind" will result in no matches from your iTunes Library because the rule for the Smart Playlist will not be saved.

If you try to edit the Smart Playlist, the "Match the following rule" field will be blank or empty after you click OK. Any additional criteria that is part of the Smart Playlist will remain, but they will produce results from the entire library, not just videos.

Note: Any Smart Playlists that were created prior to updating to iTunes 7.5 will continue to work as long as you don't try to edit the Smart Playlist.

Products affected

iTunes 7.5
Mac OS X


by dfbills on Nov 16 | 9:54 pm
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